As with any structure, wind turbines can accumulate ice under certain atmospheric conditions, such as ambient temperatures near freezing (0°C) combined with high relative humidity, freezing rain, or sleet. Since weather conditions may then cause this ice to be shed, there are safety concerns that must be considered during project development and operation. The intent of this paper is to share knowledge and recommendations in order to mitigate risk.
The accumulation of ice is highly dependent on local weather conditions and the turbine's operational state.[2,4] Any ice that is accumulated may be shed from the turbine due to both gravity and the mechanical forces of the rotating blades. An increase in ambient temperature, wind, or solar radiation may cause sheets or fragments of ice to loosen and fall, making the area directly under the rotor subject to the greatest risks. In addition, rotating turbine blades may propel ice fragments some distance from the turbine- up to several hundred meters if conditions are right.[1,2,3] Falling ice may cause damage to structures and vehicles, and injury to site personnel and the general public, unless adequate measures are put in place for protection.